Friday, June 09, 2006

Other Items (Robert Jay Lifton on Democracy Now)

After years of trying to sell the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s archives to a library or university, the King family will instead put them up for auction on June 30, Sotheby's announced Thursday.
The sale, expected to bring $15 million to $30 million, will take place exactly five months after the death of Coretta Scott King, Dr. King's widow, who was keenly interested in finding an institutional home for the papers.
The buyer will determine the future accessibility of the papers. Many were housed for years in the archives of the nonprofit King Center in Atlanta, but the papers considered the most interesting by scholars, including a trove of handwritten sermons, were found in Mrs. King's basement and have not been widely studied.

Billie noted the above, from Shaila Dewan's "King Archives Will Be Sold at Auction" in this morning's New York Times. It won't start your day with a smile, it is, however, news. (Really sad news.)

I thought we had some practical highlights, if not uplifting ones, but it turns out that even some of the voices of the left, which we might usually be able to count on, are far too busy weighing in with their distaste of Zarqawi to make any sense out of what's happened in the last news cycle.

Gotta' prove the bonafides! (It's as though they're all channeling Petey but he's genuine when he writes that nonsense.) And, due to the fact that the majority that we usually highlight are far too busy playing "Me too!" ("Oh, it's so disgusting, this Zarqawi!"), to offer anything of use (they're all echoing), we're not highlighting them this morning. Even the few voices writing on another topic and actually being useful because I'm not highlighting sites where people are being craven.

The issue isn't Zarqawi (who may or may not be dead and may or may not have been responsible for various evils). But way to play war hawks!

It's nonsense. It's disgusting and I'm not in the mood for those who want to rush in to reassure that, if you book them, they'll stick to reciting the assigned pages in the book.

Thank goodness for Dahr Jamail (and for Rebecca for highlighting Flashpoints). I'm still looking through the e-mails but seeing only disappointments (usually noted by the person e-mailing). Propaganda, to work, needs a lot of cooperation.

It's amazing how many supposed strong voices on the left want to dishonor their voices (and those who listen to them) by wasting space and time addressing the mythical Zarqawi but can't say ONE DAMN WORD about the fact that civilians were killed. If you read Rebecca's "flashpoints (dahr jamail was a guest)," you'll see that Jamail said that this would suck up everything and it truly has. You expect that from the mainstream, you don't expect it from the supposed independent media.

But everyone's got to rush in to say, "Oh, he's evil." He's not really the issue. His actions ("actions") aren't proven and the same voices who would dispute the administration on any number of other "briefings" are quick to swallow now.


Probably because everyone's so damn scared of being Dixie Chicked to this day. Don't think that's not at play here. "Oh my God, if I don't condemn the mythical Zarqawi for what he's allegedly done, they'll string me up!" And it's also true that they're writing with a herd mentality. It's disgusting. Shame on them. Shame on voices that we usually highlight who can't offer anything of value today because they're so damn busy proving that they too "oppose terrorism." Did they really think anyone doubted that? Did they really think that needed to be proven?

If nothing else it says a great deal about how they think readers will interpret them.

Someone's dead, someone the administration wants to tell you this and that about, and we're all supposed to line up and accept their words as truth, apparently. Don't give me the nonsense about Jordan. That would be the same Jordanian government that detained an Al Jazeera reporter yesterday but apparently only Brian Conley's going to break from the pack and note that?

It's nonsense and the left needs to grow up, or the voices of the left need to. No one needs your denuciation of terror. That was already a given. Using a straw man to prove your bonafides is the sort of crap better left to The New Republic. (Again, Petey's at least sincere when he does it.) It's how many years after Susan Sontag was Dixie Chicked? Grow up already. You're no use to the left if when the latest wave of propaganda (sold to take Haditha and others out of the news) is being pushed and, like an IDIOT, you take the bait.

The mythical Zarqawi's not the issue. Terrorism isn't the issue. Changing the news cycle is. And it's very sad to see so many on the left be steered into this nonsense (and coming off from a weak and defensive posture). Seriously, shame on everyone doing it. Everyone. As Goldie Hawn says in Shampoo (screenplay by Warren Beatty and Robert Towne), kissing ass doesn't make you a success, it just makes you a kiss ass.

Oh good. Mia found something actually worth highlighting. It's from CounterPunch. No surprise because CounterPunch never confuses turning out a periodical with running for office nor mistakes itself for the party organ of any party. Others might want to take note. It's Chris Floyd's "Hubub in Hibhib:"

Abu Musab Saddam Osama al-Zarqawi, the extremely elusive if not entirely mythical terrorist mastermind responsible for every single insurgent action in Iraq except for the ones caused by the red-tailed devils in Iran or the stripey-tailed devils in Syria, has reportedly been killed in an airstrike in Hibhib, an area north of Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki announced today.
Zarqawi, the notorious shape-shifter who, according to grainy video evidence, was able to regenerate lost limbs, speak in completely different accents, alter the contours of his bone structure and also suffered an unfortunate binge-and-purge weight problem which caused him to change sizes with almost every appearance, was head of an organization that quite fortuitously dubbed itself "Al Qaeda in Iraq" just around the time that the Bush Administration began changing its pretext for the conquest from "eliminating Iraq's [non-existent] weapons of mass destruction" to "fighting terrorists over there so we don't have to fight them over here."
The name change of the Zarqawi gang from its cumbersome original ­ "The Monotheism and Holy War Group" ­ to the more media-sexy "Qaeda" brand was thus a PR godsend for the Bush Administration, which was then able to associate the widespread native uprising against the Coalition occupation with the cave-dwelling dastards of the bin Laden organization. This proved an invaluable tool for the Pentagon's massive "psy-op" campaign against the American people, which was successful in sufficiently obscuring reality and defusing rising public concerns about what many experts have termed "the full-blown FUBAR" in Iraq until after the 2004 elections.
However, in the last year, even the reputed presence of a big stonking al Qaeda beheader guy roaming at will across the land has not prevented a catastrophic drop in support for President Bush in general and the war in Iraq in particular. Polls show that substantial majorities ­ even those still psy-oped into believing the conquest has something to do with fighting terrorism ­ are now saying that the war "is not worth it" and call for American forces to begin withdrawing.
With the Zarqawi theme thus producing diminishing returns, the Administration has had another stroke of unexpected luck with his reputed sudden demise. Moreover, the fact that Zarqawi was killed in a military action means that Mr. Bush will not have to cough up the $25 million reward placed on the head of the terrorist chieftain. That money will now be given to Mr. Bush's favorite charity, Upper-Class Twits Against the Inheritance Tax, an Administration spokesman said.

That's one way an intelligent person (on the left) can write about it. Chris Floyd doesn't feel the need to waste paragraphs explaining how he's against terrorism and how awful blah-blah-blah . . . He starts from the premise that he's not writing a defensive opinion piece, that he's not going to waste precious space establishing his bonafides, and instead addresses the issue. He trusts the readers' intelligence. Something all the ones posing right now fail to do -- which is insulting.

If you want to be a brave voice on the left, especially when you're expecting people to pay for your writing, you might want to consider growing up because these are serious times and it's not a child-proof world. You give up your power when you structure your argument to avoid any imagined attack from the likes of Ann Coulter or whomever. Grow up.

I'm highlighting Danny Schechter. I wondered if someone, someone with real journalism experience (and plenty of it), would be foolish enough to fall into the trap? (I doubted it. Danny's a smart guy.) Sure enough, Danny's not opening with, "Let me just say that I oppose terrorism and the death of the terrorist, we know he was because Bully Boy says so, is a wonderful thing and I won't lose any sleep over it and now I'll waste countless paragraphs proving my bonafides." Danny doesn't have to. He's not a coward and he's not a poser. If others on the left take offense by the "coward" and "poser" term, then, again, GROW UP.

So Danny puts you straight as only someone writing from a position of strength can. Read "Dissecting the Zargawi Spectacle" (News Dissector):

The essence of information/media warfare is to seize the advantage, frame the story, and capture the audiences’ imagination from the staged flags of Iwo Jima to that not so safe house in Baquba.
And now we have the bloodied head of the feared Zarqawi displayed on TV by the very military that will not allow us to see the American dead coming home. He was brought down by not one, but two, 500 pound bombs, in a later televised operation that CNN tells us cost $500,000 and has been underway for months. (And despite their devestating impact was apparently not blown to smithereens.)
What a coup! What a show! And what an event for Iraqi "leaders" to show-off with terms like he has been "eliminated." Within hours, the spinmeisters were claiming a “major victory” and pronouncing another "turning point."
Think also of the timing. Yes, they think about timing all the time. Timing is, as I have said, everything. A day earlier the NY Times had the defeat of the CIA backed warlords in Somalia on page one. The day and week before, it was All the Haditha, All The time with many commentators like Paul Rodgers, to cite one example, arguing that responsibility for the crimes and the cover-ups goes way UP the chain of command.

Those who are useless today have made themselves so. The Bully Boy didn't do it to them. That mean mainstream media didn't do it to them. No one forced you to show up at your platform (I'm obviously speaking of publications before some blogger gets upset and thinks I'm referring to him or her) and flaunt how quickly you could do the administration's bidding and go "on message." You did it to yourself. You're betraying your own power and your readership. What you've done is as annoying and self-defeating as anything Joe Lieberman could do. It's not a proud moment.

For reality, always, listen, watch or read Democracy Now!:

Psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton on the Iraq War, war crimes and torture.

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